Yangon Architectural Guide

The book in its final design has now been officially submitted to the publisher. This concludes an important step of a journey that has taken almost two years to this day.


This is what Manuel’s been busy with…

The first blog on Yangon’s architectural heritage appeared on these pages in June 2013. I had just returned from a month in the country and wondered why there was to date no effort to properly document the city’s unique colonial heritage architecture.

It did not take long to convince Manuel Oka and Elliott Fox to join me in writing a guide book to this fascinating city. We approached DOM Publishers, an architectural publishing house based in my hometown Berlin. Their growing “city guide” catalogue seemed to us the perfect venue for our planned book.

Incidentally, I discovered DOM through their Tokyo guide, and have since used their Delhi, Venice and Budapest editions to get to know these cities. Philipp Meuser’s Pyongyang Guide provided an interesting itinerary for some armchair travelling into the secretive city and country.

Now that it we’re almost done with our contribution to the series, I can look back at some changing specs. From my introduction to the guide comes this passage:

When telling people that we were writing an architectural guide to Yangon, a typical reaction was to assume we were focusing on these buildings only. In fact, the most rewarding moments of research brought us closer to the city’s lesser-known, post-independence architecture. The architects—literally building a new country—taught us many lessons. We discovered the lives of Raglan Squire, Viktor Andreyev and Benjamin Polk, among the first foreign architects to work in independent Burma. Of equal if not greater significance, we learned about a small and impressive group of local architects. While U Tin was the most famous among them, U Tun Than and U Kyaw Min left behind important legacies within the cityscape as well.

We ended up featuring a total of 110 buildings from all eras of Yangon’s history. The “blockbusters” such as the Secretariat and the Shwedagon Pagoda are all represented with longish entries.

Our introductions, a timeline, old and new maps, several thematic chapters as well as the five favourite buildings of five individuals connected to Yangon round off the chapters we organized geographically along the township boundaries. The total book will run at about 400 pages in length.

During the writing process, we spoke to the Myanmar Times and Global Voices ran some photos. We are aiming to have more press coverage as we approach publication, which, we hope, will be this fall. Stay tuned for updates and be sure to contact me if you have any questions.

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